Diary of a Fantasy Madman
Madman on the Run PDF Print E-mail
Diary of a Fantasy Madman
Written by Zach Steinhorn   
Sunday, 19 April 2015 00:00

Tuesday, April 14 - 7:05 PM

Maybe the 15 FAAB bucks I shelled out for Cameron Maybin's services in Mixed Auction Tout Wars will turn out to be a complete waste after all. For the second time in the last three games, he's not even in the lineup, with the Braves instead opting to start Eric Young Jr. in centerfield. The reality is that at this point, Maybin doesn't even deserve to be an everyday player. He's recorded just two hits over his first 15 at-bats this season. I had hoped that he would help to fill my speed void, but it's awfully hard to steal bases when you can't get on base. All I can do right now is count down the days until Denard Span returns.

Wednesday, April 15 - 10:43 PM

That's more like it! I know the season is young, but Oswaldo Arcia has so far been a total bust. Through his first six games of 2015, he was batting .176 with zero homers, zero RBI and zero runs scored. So it was nice to see him launch a two-run homer tonight, kind of a reassuring sign that I wasn't completely crazy to purchase him for $7 at the auction table last month. Actually, drafting a player like Arcia was a bit out of character for me, as I followed the "it's better to draft a player a year too early than a year too late" philosophy, prioritizing potential over track record. But then again, this is a guy who smacked 20 homers in only 103 games last year, so maintaining that pace over a full season would net a 30-plus home run campaign. Still, there was risk with Arcia, mainly due to his low OBP and struggles against left-handed pitching. By no means have I given up on him, but I have a feeling that his streakiness is going to frustrate me to no end. Hopefully, this home run will be followed by a hot stretch that will restore his trade stock to a level where I would at least have the option to deal him for some speed.

Thursday, April 16 - 10:32 PM

There were signs during the latter stages of last season that Chris Archer was ready to break out, the most notable one being a walk rate that dropped from 3.6 BB/9 prior to the All-Star break to 3.0 BB/9 following the Midsummer Classic. Not to say that his overall 2014 stat line (3.33 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 173 K in 194 2/3 IP) was unimpressive, but it sure looked like there was even more room to grow. If tonight's performance versus a formidable Blue Jays lineup (7 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 11 K) is any indication, Archer, who has now posted back-to-back 7 IP, 0 ER performances, might even exceed my own optimistic expectations. Perhaps I can now afford to trade one of my other starting pitchers for some speed?

Friday, April 17 - 10:06 PM

For some reason, I always seem to own Bartolo Colon in at least one league every year. And I think I know why. It's because I always make a special effort to identify and then draft undervalued starting pitchers, and over the past few seasons, Colon continues to be undervalued. The hesitancy to draft him is understandable. He's old, and the general consensus is that he could break down at any moment. But even at 41 years of age, he hasn't broken down yet, and Bartolo deserves a ton of credit for transforming himself from a young power pitcher to a veteran hurler who relies on pinpoint control to get hitters out. Well, after limiting the Marlins to one run over seven innings tonight, Colon has now earned a win in each of his first three starts this season while registering a 2.25 ERA and 0.80 WHIP. My sixth and final Tout Wars reserve round selection, he's already returned a profit. If Colon can manage to record his third consecutive season of at least 30 starts, now that would be something.

It might even allow me to trade one of my other starting pitchers for some speed.

Last Updated on Sunday, 19 April 2015 01:44
Early-Onset Depression PDF Print E-mail
Diary of a Fantasy Madman
Written by Zach Steinhorn   
Sunday, 12 April 2015 00:00

Monday, April 6 - 10:35 AM

The concept of vickrey FAAB bidding is no doubt a divisive one, and in my unscientific survey, I've found that there's roughly a 50/50 split between those who prefer vickrey and those who prefer hard bidding. Tout Wars follows a pure vickrey system, this after using modified vickrey rules that included a $10 floor for all bids exceeding $10. But eventually, the Tout Wars LLC, with the support of a majority of the owners, concluded that rather than going halfway, we should choose one or the other, so vickrey it was. I'm a fan of the vickrey system, as I think it adds a unique strategy element to the weekly FAAB decisions, a game within the game so to speak. Since the winning bid gets reduced to the second highest bid plus one dollar, the initial bid amounts, particularly for the flavors of the week (newly anointed closer, top prospect call-up) will usually be significantly higher than what the player is reasonably worth. Critics of the system say that it rewards irrational bidding, and it's hard to argue with that. But at the same time, all it takes is one other owner to submit an irrational bid for the irrational bidders to be punished. I know that Cory Schwartz is not a supporter of the vickrey system, and after the events of the first FAAB period of 2015 in the Mixed Auction league, I don't think his opinion will change anytime soon. You see, in the aftermath of the Craig Kimbrel trade, Jason Grilli is the new closer in Atlanta, and I guess Cory really wanted Grilli, because he entered in a bid of $42, this despite opening the season with a total FAAB budget of $84. But that's OK, right? Maybe Grilli would end up costing 20 bucks? Nope. Scott Pianowski's $40 bid forced Cory to pay $41 for Grilli's services, so he's down to $29, and we're only one week into the season. Now that's rough.

Thursday, April 9 - 8:20 PM

I'm glad I pay so much attention to injury history when assembling my fantasy squads, especially my starting pitching. Ian Kennedy has made at least 31 starts in each of his five full big league seasons. So of course, this year, when I draft him in multiple leagues, including Tout Wars, as a safe, mid-rotation SP who should provide me with roughly 200 strikeouts, he can't even make it through his first start without limping off the field. Hopefully, his mild hamstring strain will not require a DL stint, but that's probably wishful thinking.

Friday, April 10 - 5:42 PM

Yup, wishful thinking. The San Diego Union-Tribune is now reporting that the Padres will place Ian Kennedy on the 15-day disabled list later today. Fortunately, I drafted a deep pitching staff to protect against injuries. And fortunately, this is a mixed league, so there should be at least a handful of decent replacement options available on the waiver wire. Nothing special, but decent. But this isn't exactly a comforting way to kick off the season. Now all I can do is hope that Kennedy will only miss the minimum 15 days. Ugh.

Friday, April 10 - 8:06 PM

Good thing I drafted a deep pitching staff to protect against injuries, because I just lost a second one. Derek Holland was another preseason favorite of mine, as he made a triumphant return late last season from his knee injury and I figured that many owners might overlook just how good he was in 2013. Well, his 2015 innings pitched total will remain at 1.0 for quite awhile following the Rangers announcement that the shoulder injury that bounced him from today's start will keep him out of action for at least 4-6 weeks and almost certainly longer since he's not even expected to pick up a baseball for 4-6 weeks. Seriously, could this season have started out any worse for my Tout Wars pitching staff?

Friday, April 10 - 9:48 PM

My biggest Tout Wars draft day regret is not drafting quite enough speed. I have Elvis Andrus. I have Kolten Wong. And I have Denard Span, when he returns from the DL. But that's it as far as legitimate 20-plus SB guys go. I need more, which is why I submitted what I considered to be an aggressive FAAB bid of $15 to secure Cameron Maybin. As it turned out, $15 was just enough to land the disappointing former top prospect, as Nando DiFino bid $14. I'm tempering my expectations for Maybin, as he is coming off two straight injury-plagued and ineffective seasons. But he did swipe a combined 66 bags from 2011-2012, and perhaps a fresh start in Atlanta will do him some good. If he can just stay healthy and hold onto an everyday job (no guarantee on either), 25 steals is well within reach, which means I won't need to be so desperate in my attempts to trade for speed. Judging from Maybin's performance tonight, which included both a home run and a steal, taking a flier on Cameron might prove to be a genius move. But who am I kidding? I know better than to get overly confident. After all, this is Cameron Maybin we're talking about.


Last Updated on Sunday, 12 April 2015 03:26
How Did That Happen? PDF Print E-mail
Diary of a Fantasy Madman
Written by Zach Steinhorn   
Sunday, 29 March 2015 00:00

Like many fantasy owners, during the minutes, hours, and then days following my drafts, I spend way too much time second guessing myself. What could I have done differently to construct a stronger overall roster? Where did things go wrong? Now listen, I don't want to sound too negative here. Usually, more goes right than goes wrong. That said, when reviewing my drafts, I always have that feeling that I could've done better. And as much as I prefer auctions to snake drafts, the urge to second guess is even stronger when it comes to auctions. After all, every owner has a shot at every player, and if you fail to come away with a certain player that you coveted, whether it be due to not going the extra dollar or depleting your budget by overpaying for a number of other players, it's your fault. Using the draft position excuse isn't an option. On the other hand, it's unfair to beat yourself up too much. All you can do is make the best decision possible using the information you have at the time. Easier said than done.

Last Saturday, my fourth season in the Mixed Auction Tout Wars league officially got underway, and I spent far too much time during the proceedings shaking my head as one player after the next was bought for a bargain price after I had already filled that roster slot with a player purchased for list price. In most of these cases, I still prefer my guy, even when factoring in the price difference. But not in all of them. On that note, let's go around the diamond and take a look at the best buys at each position. The player I drafted for that spot is in parenthesis.

Yasmani Grandal for $8 (Wilson Ramos for $10 as C)

1B  Albert Pujols for $20 (Anthony Rizzo for $40 as 1B)

2B  Daniel Murphy for $7 (Kolten Wong for $17 as 2B)

SS  Alexei Ramirez for $12 (Elvis Andrus for $15 as SS)

3B  Pablo Sandoval for $12 (Kyle Seager for $22 as 3B)

OF  Yoenis Cespedes for $15 (Brandon Moss for $17 as OF2)

OF  Mark Trumbo for $9 (Brandon Moss for $17 as OF2)

OF  Nelson Cruz for $14 (Brandon Moss for $17 as OF2)

SP  Jered Weaver for $5 (Lance Lynn for $9 as SP3)

CL  Santiago Casilla for $4 (Glen Perkins for $12 as CL2)

Missing out on Cespedes, Cruz, and to a lesser extent Trumbo at those prices bothers me a little, but Moss was one of my main targets and I got him for fair value. Rizzo going for twice as much as Pujols looks ridiculous on paper, but again, Rizzo was both my first and second choice at first base. I'm not too high on Casilla this year, but since I later drafted Sergio Romo for $1, it would've been nice to lock up San Francisco's saves for a combined $5 as opposed to shelling out 12 bucks for Perkins, even though I consider that to be a fair price.

You can check out my full Tout Wars draft recap here

Last Updated on Sunday, 29 March 2015 07:31
Correlation Conjecturing (Part II) PDF Print E-mail
Diary of a Fantasy Madman
Written by Zach Steinhorn   
Sunday, 15 March 2015 00:00

Last week, I looked at the 2014 Spring Training hitting leaders in the standard 5x5 rotisserie categories. So, as promised, we will now switch gears to the pitching leaders and review what happened to these guys once the calendar turned to April.


Jesse Chavez (5) - Actually, among pitchers who were exclusively starters during Spring Training, Marco Estrada's four wins led the Majors. But an inconsistent first few months of the season landed him in the bullpen, and he enjoyed considerably more success pitching in a relief role. As for Chavez, he also split the season between the starting rotation and the pen, posting solid numbers across the board (3.45 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 8.4 K/9). The 31-year-old righty is a legitimate candidate to open the 2015 campaign in the A's starting rotation, and he makes for a fine under the radar option in AL-only leagues and deeper mixed formats if he does indeed earn a rotation spot.


Jean Machi (4) - Spring Training saves cannot be taken seriously, as closers often get their work in way before the ninth inning. So feel free to ignore this, especially since Machi's ERA was 5.00. That said, he did go on to have an excellent regular season, registering a 2.58 ERA and 0.95 WHIP while collecting 17 holds. Still, he's at best third on San Francisco's closer pecking order behind Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo, which means that he is irrelevant for fantasy purposes unless you're in an NL-only league that uses holds as a category.


Justin Verlander (0.00) - Now this is interesting. Verlander's Spring Training performance could not have been much better, as he tossed 20 scoreless innings while allowing just eight hits and whiffing 17. As we all know, the regular season was a completely different story, with the former dual MVP/Cy Young award winner suffering through his worst season since 2008. And guess what? Through two starts this spring, he's pitched five shutout innings. Regardless, I wouldn't mind taking a chance on Verlander this year at the drastically reduced cost.


Justin Verlander (0.65) - Oh, and the WHIP was pretty good too. Look, I understand that drafting Verlander this season is a risk, and it would be unwise to count on a return to ace form. But does he really deserve to be ranked outside of the top-50 starting pitchers? And yes, that is where he's being ranked by many outlets. To tell you the truth, I'm intrigued by this buying opportunity.


C.J. Wilson (35) - Not only did Wilson fan 35 batters across 28 2/3 innings last spring, but he recorded a 1.88 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. Then of course, he puts up his worst regular season stat line since he was converted to a full-time starter back in 2010. Wilson did average over 210 innings pitched per season from 2010-2013, so perhaps all of that work caught up with him, and he finally did succumb to the DL in July due to a sprained ankle. His proven track record suggests that he could be a decent value pick this year because his price will be minimal. But the consistently high walk rate (3.9 career BB/9) limits his ceiling. Personally, I'd rather go in a different direction when rounding out my fantasy staff.

I've never paid too much attention to Spring Training stats, and that's not going to change anytime soon.

Last Updated on Sunday, 15 March 2015 00:44
Correlation Conjecturing PDF Print E-mail
Diary of a Fantasy Madman
Written by Zach Steinhorn   
Sunday, 08 March 2015 00:00

With Spring Training games officially underway, fantasy owners will finally be provided with concrete 2015 box score data. But how seriously should we value these stats when preparing for our drafts? The majority opinion has always been to not take a player's spring performance too seriously due to both the small sample size and the lower quality of opponent, as a significant percentage of Spring Training players are bound for the Minors. But according to Dan Rosenheck, a sports editor at The Economist, it's a mistake to simply dismiss this data. You can learn more about his findings here, but all this got me thinking that it would be sort of fun to look back at Spring Training 2014. Who were the leaders in the traditional 5x5 rotisserie categories and how did their regular season pan out? This week, we will focus on the hitting categories before shifting over to the pitching side next week.


Michael Brantley (.500) - Brantley's breakout 2014 campaign was one of the biggest surprises of last season, despite the red-hot spring in which he went 25-for-50. He was a popular sleeper pick (I remember Lawr was touting him), but anyone who tells you that they foresaw a top-25 season is lying. Personally, I'm a bit wary of spending what it will take to draft him this season, especially considering that he hit only five home runs in the second half after slugging 15 longballs prior to the All-Star break. Can we truly count on another 20 homers? However, the batting average should be strong once again.


Jose Bautista/Mike Trout/Chris Heisey (6) - Let's play a game called "Which of these players does not belong?" OK, that was too easy. Heisey has teased us with his power potential so many times that it's tough to take him seriously. And as it turned out, those who didn't take him seriously were correct, as he recorded a .222 average with only eight home runs in 275 regular season at-bats. Now with the Dodgers, Heisey's at-bats will be minimal playing in a crowded Los Angeles outfield. His fantasy relevance is limited to deep NL-only leagues. As for Bautista and Trout, they're both pretty good.


Mike Moustakas (18) - Looking only at Moustakas' Spring Training and Postseason stats from 2014, you would think that he's a fantasy star. The problem was the regular season. Through his first 514 big league games, the former top prospect sports a .236 batting average, and after belting 20 home runs in 2012, he's left the yard a combined 27 times over the past two seasons. The good news is that Moose is still just 26 years of age, so don't give up on him just yet. As a cheap CI in deeper mixed leagues, you could do worse.


Austin Jackson/Brad Miller/Logan Schafer (17) - Even though he failed to follow up his promising spring with a highly productive regular season, Jackson is a guy who I think is a bit underrated heading into 2015. Sure, he strikes out too much and is unlikely to be an asset in the batting average department (though as a .274 career hitter, he won't be a liability either). But hitting atop an improved Mariners lineup, Austin could very well rank among the league leaders in runs and chip in 20 steals along the way. The massive power outage (four home runs) was unexpected, but Jackson was coming off three consecutive double-digit home run campaigns. Draft him at the price of a fourth or fifth outfielder in a mixed league and don't be surprised if you are rewarded with OF3 production. Miller, like Mike Moustakas, has yet to live up to expectations but could make for a decent low-cost MI pick in deeper leagues, assuming of course that he wins Seattle's starting shortstop job. Schafer is a fantasy non-factor.


Jarrod Dyson/Billy Burns (10) - Despite not receiving everyday playing time, Dyson remains on the fantasy radar thanks to his elite speed. We're talking three straight seasons of at least 30 swipes in fewer than 300 at-bats. Unfortunately, he's not a useful contributor in any other category, and as long as he remains a part-timer, that's not going to change. Barring an injury to one of the Royals outfielders, for mixed league purposes, Dyson is strictly a waiver wire fill-in option.

Remember Burns and his .306 average with 12 runs scored along with the ten swipes in only 26 Spring Training contests? So, what happened to this guy? Well, he didn't even open the season with the big club and went on to appear in a grand total of 13 games for the A's, collecting one hit in six at-bats.

Now listen, I'm a lot more optimistic about Marcus Semien than I ever was about Billy Burns, but let's wait awhile before we hand over any hardware.


Last Updated on Sunday, 08 March 2015 09:53
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